Our Time

Psalm 111: 4

The Lord is gracious and compassionate.

My favorite verse in this psalm is actually verse 10, “The fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” That is the verse I intended to use for today’s Word of the Day. I didn’t use it because when I read verse 4 this idea of God’s compassion overtook my mind and heart. I was immediately given to understand that being in the Lord is how we are able to express compassion and to be gracious. Those two traits might not be intrinsic to humans, but we have the ability to express them expansively because He is in us giving life to our mortal bodies. His life within us is filling us with His goodness so that we have His love to share with others. This, the love and compassion of our dear Father, is what the world needs now, most of all.

I had an interesting conversation, this week, with someone who shared with me the sense that Christians are not showing their love at this time. Where we ought to be the voice of love and grace, she hears judgment and hate. I am chagrined down to my bones. My spirit has not been so aggrieved in many years. How is it that in the midst of a worldwide calamity, Christian compassion is not the talk of the town. As I listened, I had to admit that I have turned off Facebook for the very same reason. I don’t hear love, compassion or Christ like zeal either. I hear judgement and division. I decided that my time was better spent in prayer and meditation.

This is a challenging time for us all and as a political science major and law graduate, I was initially drawn in by political analysis. This is a historical time and I wondered how history would record our reactions. I began watching how different political systems dealt with the crisis. It was fascinating and I wanted to be back with my political science buddies, hearing their thoughts. But then something happened. I was called upon to be the pastor that God has called me to be. It forced me into a paradigm shift where I had less luxury for contemplating political science kinds of questions. The world was hurting and that called upon the Spirit within me to respond with God’s comfort. I was blessed to see the immediate sense of community and camaraderie. That spirit of cooperation and teamwork waned though. I had a project in mind that would require the assistance of others. Before I could get it off the ground, compassion and caring were supplanted by politics, division and judgment. No longer was it all for one and one for all.

I am moved, however, in knowing that Christians are still praying. We are God’s hands and voice in the earth to bring comfort and peace. We have an important job to do and that is to spread the love, compassion and graciousness of our Father to all people without regard to race, country of origin, ethnicity, political party or jurisdictional borders. Only we have the power and authority of God for such an important mission and I don’t think we should be taking our role lightly. We shouldn’t forget that every single Christian is an important part in the body of Christ and, as such, is called upon in this time of need. Let others argue about face masks and politics. We have more important things to do. We have the real answers. Why should we burden ourselves with worldly thoughts and arguments? We must decide for whom we stand in this hour of great need. Is it a political party, candidate, position or our Father? Let’s not be argumentative, but rather understanding, compassionate and caring. Let’s reach out to each other and those who may not yet know the love of the Father and give them a taste of His unfailing love. Remember, if we do not show God’s acceptance and understanding, no one will.

You have been called to this day and don’t believe you haven’t, but not to political debate. No, we are called in this time to prayer and the expression of His love. This is the time when you must stand up for love and show your true colors. Turn off the TV and spend some extra time in meditation and conversation with your Father. Open your heart honestly and let Him give you direction and ideas. You are a powerful force for good and this could be the greatest evangelical time of our lives. Let’s not waste it being judgmental and divisive. You are the blessing God has put in the earth and though you may feel like you are not important, I can assure you that you are. Don’t waste your power and authority in Christ Jesus. Be the blessing and voice you were born to be. Be the voice of compassion and grace. Don’t miss your time. Don’t underestimate your value.

Melchizedek

Psalm 110: 4

The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Melchizedek is an interesting figure. He appeared in Genesis 14: 18 after Abram defeated the three kings. Interestingly, though, Melchizedek is mentioned more often in the New Testament than the Old. When Abram returned from the battle, Melchizedek, the King of Salem and High Priest of God, brought out bread and wine to Abram. Abram, in turn, gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the spoils of war. Very interesting indeed!

First, let us not miss that Salem means peace. So, this Melchizedek was the King of Peace and Jesus is called the Prince of peace. Also, the bread and the wine foreshadow the communion which is the remembrance of Christ’s body and blood being broken and spilled for us. Today’s verse speaks of Jesus that he is forever a priest according to the standing and ways of Melchizedek. Jesus’ priesthood is of the order of Melchizedek.

We can glean many things from today’s passage and those other passages about Melchizedek to which it points, but it cannot be missed that a very important aspect is that Abram gave a tithe of all to the ministry which represents the coming Lord and High Priest.

People really get hung up on tithing and it truly amazes me. I find it harder and harder to teach or preach on tithing because it increasingly seems that it is like breathing, meaning it is just something we do but not something that generally needs a great deal of discussion. When I am pressed to discuss it, I hardly know what to say. Father Abram set the example. Melchizedek brought him out wine and bread, symbolically the broken body and spilled blood of our beloved. How can that remembrance not invoke in me a desire to lay my pittance upon the alter that received my Lord? How is ten percent of anything of more value than my precious Jesus? Abram was only looking forward to the coming Lord. In our day, the Lord has already come and endured horrendous suffering for each of us. Is that not enough to motivate us to replicate Abram’s simple act? And really, should it even take thinking of Jesus’ sacrifice to spurn me to such minuscule action? What of his and the Father’s kindnesses to me today and every day? What of the promise of eternity in their presence? If all God has done for us does not inspire us to a desire to bless Him, then what could He ever do to earn our generosity? You see, I just don’t get it.

We should consider it an honor to support His ministry. We should race each other to the alter to give into His work. I am not unsympathetic, it’s just that I don’t understand the hesitancy. I am blessed, without a doubt, and I bless God that I am able to add my little bit to His offering plate. I could not do it without His grace and help and I know that. I am nothing in myself, but our God enables us to be a blessing and I thank my God that He allows me to be a contributor. It is a joy we should all experience. It should bless our hearts and just feel good to get to partner with God.

Bless the Lord and bless you. I know I am preaching to the choir today. You are the people who give. You are the blessing God has sent. I bless you today in the name of our Lord, Jesus, who is the Christ, the one who has saved and anointed us into his own ministry. May you continually wear his loving grace as a cloak about your shoulders.

Hand of Salvation

Psalm 109: 26 – 27

Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Your lovingkindness. And let them know that this is Your hand; You, Lord, have done it.

There are two aspects of these verses which sing to me. The first is that our Father saves according to His kindness. The second is that our salvation shall be recognized as the grace which comes from the hand of the Lord God, Yahweh, our Father and deliverer.

The first part is such a relief. God extends His saving grace to us not because we deserve it or have earned it but rather because He is love and kindness. What an important concept this is for us individually as well as theologically. We are relieved of the pressure of earning His many graces. We are expected to turn to Him in our need without regard of our righteousness or lack thereof. Hallelujah! Theologically, doesn’t this make the job of every minister on the planet easier? We do not have to teach you how to earn God’s favor nor continually harangue parishioners to works which will grant them God’s graciousness. I hope that God’s many kindnesses towards us stimulates kindness in us but nothing we can do will help us to earn His kind intentions. No matter how rotten any of us have been in the last week, month or ten years, He still loves us and is willing to help us in all things. Salvation and forgiveness are constantly in His hand.

Some see the glorious touch of the Lord’s grace and still deny His presence, yet our prayer is that His salvation shall be so loud, so glorious and so obvious that no one will be able to deny that it was the hand of the Lord. Father, send your angels with your Word to bring salvation to the earth. Save us, Lord, from our daily perils. Meet our needs by your richness in Christ and shower us with your never-ending mercies. Cause the world and worldly to see you face and your grace. You cause the son and the sun to shine upon the saved and the unsaved; your rain waters us all. Let each person receive of your bounty and be filled. Father, you are the Righteous One. Let us revel in your presence and the beauty of your face. We seek you Lord and beseech you on behalf of all people. Let not our sin fall upon us but rather your mercy. We offer you praise and thanksgiving for caring about us and caring for us. Be praised dear Lord. Amen.

Aid

Psalm 108: 12 – 13      NIV

Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

These two verses capture well how I feel about the corona virus situation. We have battled it with our human wisdom, yet it seems we are getting nowhere. I appreciate the Herculean efforts researchers and medical personnel are investing in this problem. They truly are heroes. However, despite their tireless efforts, the virus continues to ravage the world. It is truly amazing how it tears through populations. We need intervention, Divine intervention.

No doubt that with God we will gain the victory. He is glorious and everything that is named must bow to Him. The virus and the disease it causes have names, so must bow to the awesome names, Yahweh and Yeshua (Father and Son). Our God is a mighty fortress and a powerful force. He is the shelter into which we can run but He is also our defender, forward and rear guard. He is gentle with the frightened and hurting but a fierce foe against anything that threatens His children. His love creates a safe haven, but it also tramples our adversary.

We need rescuing now. We need help against the enemy now. There is no authority in the earth that can overcome this dilemma. Even if the WHO was empowered and completely effective, not all nations are members. There is only one who reigns over the entire world. Bless His holy name, He loves members of every country, race and nationality. He is our one and only Father, our beloved. He is the morning sun, the bright and shining hope; our love and our life. Bless the Lord. Give praise to His name. Sing of His glory and enduring kindness. Beseech His aid. In one unified voice, call Yahweh. Seek Him and His face. Glory to the Lord; glory and praise. May all who have voice cry out to Him and praise His holy name.

Saved and Healed

Psalm 107: 19 – 22

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.

Happy Monday all! I pray you are well and longing for a fresh word from the Lord. This psalm is a favorite of mine because it tells of God sending us His Word and the impact it has on human life. The Word heals. Amen.

I have this psalm, specifically verse 20, among the scriptures I give to people when they have need of physical healing. Of course, it is equally applicable to emotional or mental healing as well. I have also used it in the Word of the Day at least 18 times. I believe it has a strong message that will feed life to us. Today, however, I was equally struck by the verses accompanying verse 20 because together they tell a potent story. In context we learn that the people cried out to the Lord in their day of trouble. I cannot think of a period, in my lifetime, when we have been in greater trouble. When the people spoken of in this psalm cried out to the Lord, he saved them from their distress.

This causes me to wonder if we have really cried out to the Lord out of our distress. Do we vent our spleen on Facebook instead of crying out to the Lord with the anguish we feel? Have we actually come to grips with how we feel, or do we sublimate those emotions? It does not seem that we call out to God with the same passion that we give to our remonstrations. Isn’t that the conclusion we must come to since we have not been saved from our present peril? Mustn’t we conclude that either God does not save or we have not cried out to Him? One of the two must be true. I cannot believe my God does not save or that His arm is too short to save. And if that is true, then there must be some other explanation. Looking at this model, I have to presume that the first condition has not been met.

Were you to read the whole psalm, you would see that the author tells of several times when the people cried out to the Lord in their distress and in each case, God saved them. If He saved them, why would He not save us? Did He love them more than He loves us? Were their lives more precious to Him than are ours? Surely not! So, I have to believe that the Lord, our God and Father, is still able and very willing to extend His hand of salvation to us today. Let us not forsake the end of this passage, however. Those saints gave the Father praise and thanksgiving. They sang with a joyful song the good news of the God who saves.

I wish I could get this devotional into the hands of every Christian in the world and I wish that each one of those persons would find inspiration herein that would create a worldwide outpouring of passionate prayer to the Father, who is Lord. I wish that those who may not know Christ personally would turn their hearts, with us, to the one who saves and would cry out for help, and I wish that our lands would be healed, that we would unite under one banner, the banner of Christ, that our eyes would look well beyond politicians, medical personnel, and even friends to be fixed on the one who is well able to rescue us from this present trouble. I wish we would turn off the news and instead search God’s Word and our own hearts for real answers. Give me the good news!!! Tell me what God has to say about the problems which confront us. Demand answers of Him and listen. Join in one voice to the Great Almighty who loves us. Believe with all your heart that He does love us and is willing to save. Call upon Him with an impassioned demand. Let us cry out to our Father. Let’s really do it. Tell all your friends. Stir up the fire in your heart and cry out to the Lord. Father, send your Word and heal us!

Good Prayer

Psalm 106: 4 – 5              God’s Word

Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people. Come to help me with our salvation so that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, find joy in our people’s happiness, and brag with the people who belong to you.

Save me, show me your favor, let me find joy, prosperity, happiness and praise. Not a bad prayer, especially when you consider the psalmist asks the Lord to lead him to praise. All these things; favor, salvation, prosperity, etc. ultimately lead us to praise. Don’t you believe that praise, bragging about the great things God is doing in your life, leads to more praise and, subsequently, to more of those great things? The more I focus my mind and words on praise and thanksgiving, the more praise and thanksgiving well up in my heart.

The petition for salvation reminds me that God brings His saving grace to everything I do. I used to think of salvation only in the eternity context, but Yahweh thinks of it in a day to day perspective. The writer was already a person who knew God and yet he petitioned God to bring him help and he called that help “salvation.” How many times have I prayed, “Lord, save me,” without ever thinking that the noun form of that would be salvation? That is huge!

Within the Lord’s saving help is prosperity in all things; in your finances, sure, but also in your body, mind, health, relationships and every other way you can think of. The end result God wants to bring to life is joy and happiness. Ultimately, that is called Shalom. It is the definitive peace, completeness and wholeness.

I pray favor over you today. In that favor I hope you find complete fulfillment, joy and peace. I pray praise exudes from you from the overflow of joy you experience daily.

I also hope, that despite the coronavirus constraints, you are having a good summer. I have encouraged you to make the most of this time. Use the time you’ve gained to make life better in some way. I am going to take my advice. For the rest of the summer, beginning with this week, I am going to publish the Word of the Day once a week. We will continue our Psalms Monday. The rest of the week I am going to use as a mini sabbatical to devote my time to my studies and projects. It will simplify my life and allow me to focus my attention on a few big goals.

I will continue to be available should you need me. You have my phone number and email address. I will also continue to manage the prayer requests. The prayer team never takes a vacation from prayer so keep those prayer requests coming. Just go to our website prayer request tab and leave your request. Until next Monday . . . Be blessed!

Help!

Colossians 3: 8

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

This is a good word and a good reminder. When we sin, it is often with our mouths. I know I need hear these verses routinely to keep me reminded to watch my mouth. I did an entire series on this one little verse once. It is packed with meaning and when you unpack it, you find these are very powerful words. I am sure that Paul did not choose them lightly.

When you read verse 15 you find that we are supposed to “Let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts.” All of the words above stand in contrast to the Shalom of God. Remember, when a Jewish writer, as was Paul, writes about peace they are not speaking only about tranquility. It means wholeness, unbrokenness. You cannot live in peace while giving vent to anger or wrath. Abusive speech is never to exit our mouths, nor slander.

It is easy to read this verse and say, “Yes, I know I should watch this.” It is quite another to unpack this and think about what each of the words means and what Paul is asking us to do. Remember, he was confronted with a new body of believers which included Jews and Gentiles. You know there was much tension. Those tensions show up in the Bible and you can bet it was much worse than portrayed there. People who may not have even spoken to one another before were all of a sudden expected to live harmoniously. Their lifestyles were completely different as were their values. Of course there were disagreements. Paul had to teach them that even in their differences, they were to show each other respect.

The Jews have a principle known as loshon hora. In its simplest form it means not to make any derogatory comment about anyone, even if it is true. So while there were disagreements, the Jews had to learn how to respectfully confront those conflicts. Further, it means we are not supposed to disparage anyone even if what we say is true. Is that a challenge? Everyone has someone in their life who is a nutter but this means you can’t even call them a goof to someone else because it would tend to damage their reputation. Even if it’s true!

All forms of violent, abusive, disparaging, insulting speech are prohibited by this passage. Anger, get a grip on it. If you’re like me, you need more prayer time. Definitely, if we are going to control our tongues, we are going to need more prayer time. You can’t do this on your own. You need help. That person is going to dig right under your skin, so get help. Call 1-800-GOD-HELP and put anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech on the altar.